By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA—The Federal Government has said efforts were being made to ensure that HIV/AIDS had its own budget provision in all ministries to further enhance its position in the fight against AIDS.
President Goodluck Jonathan stated this yesterday on the occasion of the 2010 World AIDS Day in Abuja.
According to him, “The federal government is making every effort to ensure that HIV/AIDS has its own budget provision in all the ministries and that adequate budget provision is made for National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, to further enhance its position in the fight against AIDS”.
President Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, said statistics had shown that only 14% of Nigerians had ever been tested for HIV/AIDS.
“Ideally, everybody needs to know his/her own HIV status and take appropriate decision based on it to cherish and guard a negative result or to take steps to live positively with the virus,” the president said.
He explained the urgent need to scale up significantly towards the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention programs, treatment, care and support by 2015.
“The sad thing, however, is that many people still go about in ignorance without the benefit of knowing their status.
“I would like to seize this opportunity to encourage every Nigerian, young and old, who has not yet known his or her status to heed the call to go for HIV counselling and testing to determine his or her status,” President Jonathan counselled.
He said in order to stem the tendency to stigmatize and discriminate against HIV/AIDS patients, a bill on stigma and discrimination had passed through the House of Representatives and was currently with the senate.
The president expressed confidence that the bill would be passed by the National Assembly “and l assure you l will sign it into law as soon as it reaches my office.”
In his remark, the Director General NACA, Prof John Idoko, said the agency had increased funding for HIV with round 9 GF HIV with the recent signing of an agreement for a grant worth $320 million for five years and an additional $3 million for quick wins PMTCT.
He said the common goal of the agency was to halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015, adding that in so doing, it would also contribute to the developmental goals of the nation, including vision 20/20/20.
“To achieve this, we need to provide universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programs,” he said
Prof Idoko said the HIV situation in Nigeria was already improving as a result of the progress recorded in the United Nations General Assembly’s special session country report.